Captain Sergio Ramos believes Real Madrid are as hungry to beat Atletico Madrid in Saturday’s (28 May) Champions League final as they were two years ago when they beat their neighbours to land a 10th European Cup.
It was Ramos who headed an injury-time equaliser to send the 2014 final into extra-time where Real overpowered a flattened Atletico 4-1 to end a 12-year wait for ‘La Decima’.
The defender said that night in Lisbon had done nothing to sate Real’s determination.
“I wouldn’t change anything about the last final, destiny has been written and that’s how it had to go and it’s now in the past. Equally, we’ll turn a page tomorrow and we don’t want to dwell on past things, especially now that we are about to make great new memories. If I was to write a film, I would have scripted it like that, but now we have to focus on this one and not live in the past and face this final as if there had not been another Champions League final. We have the same hunger, hope and excitement as we did before,” Ramos told a news conference on Friday (27 May).
Atletico were caught out at the death in Lisbon and Ramos urged total concentration for his side on Saturday, warning that Diego Simeone’s outfit will be waiting to pounce on any momentary lapse from Real.
Coach Zinedine Zidane meanwhile sought to calm concerns over star striker Cristiano Ronaldo’s health, saying he was fit and ready to fire Real to more European glory.
The prolific Portuguese player set alarm bells ringing on Tuesday (24 May) when he ended training prematurely with a knock but was fit to train again the following day.
“No, I don’t think it’s the same thing, you know, he (Cristiano Ronaldo) had some pain but he is well, he’s 100 percent. And anyway one will take any pain to play in the final. But I think he’s well. He felt some pain but it’s not the same he had in London, it’s completely different and tomorrow he’ll be 100 percent,” he said.
Although Ronaldo scored the final goal in Real’s 4-1 extra-time win over Atletico in the 2014 final in Lisbon, he has admitted he was far from his best due to a hamstring problem and is determined to put in a better performance at Milan’s San Siro on Saturday.
Simeone’s men are one of just two teams coach Zinedine Zidane has lost to since succeeding Rafael Benitez in January, the other being VfL Wolfsburg in the Champions League quarter-final first leg.
Zidane responded to that reverse by redeploying Brazilian Casemiro in defensive midfield, leading to a run of 12 straight league victories and the surge to a second final in three years.
“I believe we are a bit better, we are a bit better in every sense and, although that doesn’t mean anything, it doesn’t mean anything in a final, I’m pleased because we have done a huge amount of work. I believe a lot in the work, very much, and what the players did to get here, it was phenomenal. Now it’s time for the final, so we’ve reached the top level. We can’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, all we know is we’re prepared. We are prepared to play. But I can’t tell you what will happen tomorrow. It will be complicated for both teams. It’s the same thing every time you face a match, but above all when you’re playing in a final, it’s 50-50, there is no favourite,” he said.
“Our aim tomorrow will be attacking, to be good in our attacks. And then, what we’ll need to do tomorrow is to run, run and run,” he said when asked how his side would cope with Atletico’s intense style.
Kick-off in the match will be at 1:45 p.m.